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The EU approved (surprisingly) the law on the restoration of nature

After months confirmed the agreement with the Eurocamera on the pillar regulation of the Green deal

The EU Council formally adopted the first regulation on the restoration of nature. After months of stalemate, the Environment Ministers confirmed the agreement with the European Parliament on the regulation proposed in June 2022 by the European Commission to restore the already degraded natural areas, one of the pillars of the Green Deal. Italy voted against together with Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden, while only Belgium abstained. In fact, green light has been possible thanks to the change of position (there are those who speak more critically of "turnaround") of the Austrian government, which had initially declared its intention to abstain: with the yes of Vienna today, However, it was possible to achieve a qualified majority in the Council. the majority is obtained when to vote in favor are at least 15 EU States (out of 27) representing at least 65% of the population.

This law aims to implement measures to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. It lays down specific and legally binding objectives and obligations for the restoration of nature in each of the listed ecosystems, from terrestrial to marine, freshwater and urban ecosystems. The regulation also aims to mitigate climate change and the effects of natural disasters: in fact, it will help the EU to respect its international environmental commitments and restore European nature. 

The new legislation, in short, provides for the restoration of 20% of the Union’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030. The legislation, defined by many "pioneering" aims to restore at least 30% of the Union’s terrestrial and marine areas by 2030 and all ecosystems that need restoration by 2050.

Restoration of terrestrial and marine ecosystems

The new rules will contribute to restoring degraded ecosystems in Member States' terrestrial and marine habitats, to achieving the EU’s overall objectives of climate mitigation and adaptation and to improving food security. The regulation requires member states to establish and implement measures to jointly restore, as an EU target, at least 20% of EU land and sea areas by 2030. The regulation covers a range of terrestrial, coastal and freshwater, forest, agricultural and urban ecosystems, including wetlands, pastures, forests, rivers and lakes, as well as marine ecosystems, including phanerogam prairies and sponge beds and corals.

Until 2030, Member States will give priority to Natura 2000 sites in the implementation of restoration measures. For habitats considered to be in poor condition, listed in the Regulation, Member States will take remedial measures:

  • at least 30% by 2030;
  • at least 60% by 2040;
  • at least 90% by 2050

    Efforts of non deterioration

    Member States shall endeavour to avoid a significant deterioration of areas that:
  • have reached good conditions thanks to the restoration house the terrestrial and marine habitats listed in the regulation;
  • protecting the pollinators

    The regulation introduces specific requirements for measures to reverse the decline of pollinating populations by 2030.

    Measures for the ecosystems

    The Regulation lays down specific requirements for different types of ecosystems, including agricultural land, forests and urban ecosystems. Member States, the Brussels communiqué stresses, "will take measures to improve two of these three indicators: 
  • the grassland butterfly population; 
  • the stock of organic carbon in cultivated mineral soils; 
  • the share of agricultural land with highly diverse landscape characteristics. 

Increasing forest bird populations and ensuring that no net losses of urban green spaces and tree cover occur until the end of 2030 are also key measures of this new law. The member States, adds the note, "will implement measures to restore dried up peatlands and help to plant at least three billion more trees by 2030 at U level". In order to transform at least 25,000 km of rivers into free rivers by 2030, Member States will take measures to remove anthropogenic barriers to surface water connectivity. 

National recovery plans

Under the new rules, Member States must plan and submit national recovery plans to the Commission indicating how to achieve the targets. They must also monitor and report on their progress, based on European biodiversity indicators.

The next steps

The regulation will now be published in the Official Journal of the EU and will enter into force. It will become directly applicable in all Member States.
By 2033, the Commission will review the application of the Regulation and its impact on agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as its wider socio-economic effects.

The context

The European Commission proposed a law on the restoration of nature on 22 June 2022, as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which is part of the European Green Deal. Over 80% of Europe’s habitats are in poor condition. Past efforts to protect and conserve nature have failed to reverse this worrying trend.

For this reason, for the first time ever, the regulation aims to take measures not only to preserve but also to restore nature. The regulation will help the EU meet its international commitments, in particular the Kunming-Montréal Global Framework for Biodiversity agreed at the 2022 UN Conference on Biodiversity (COP15).

"I am satisfied with this positive vote on the law on the restoration of nature, agreed between the European Parliament and the Council almost a year ago -explains Alain Maron, minister of Climate transition, Environment, energy and participatory democracy of the government of the Brussels Capital Region-. It is the result of hard work that has paid off. There is no time for a break in protecting our environment. Today, the EU Council chooses to restore nature in Europe, thereby protecting biodiversity and the living environment of European citizens. It is our duty to respond to the urgency of the collapse of biodiversity in Europe, but also to enable the European Union to fulfil its international commitments. The European delegation can go to the next COP with its head held high".

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EFA News - European Food Agency